How an air-conditioning mechanic in Sydney Australia became an award winning broadcaster in Britain Part 71.


Radio is an intimate medium and it becomes even more intimate at night.

In 1996 I was on the air from 7pm to midnight on 2GO on the New South Wales Central Coast. It was basically a request show but the thing that made it work was when the callers told me WHY they wanted to hear a particular song. I never knew what I was going to get, jilted lovers, angry drunks and most of all lonely people. Some of the most moving calls came from Vietnam vets.

I’d only ever met one ex-soldier from the conflict in Vietnam before. That was years earlier when I worked as a pipefitter on an oil refinery construction site in New Zealand. One of the riggers on the job had been in The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) and served in Vietnam. I remember how he hated the sound of the hydraulic pipe bending machine because the noise it made sounded to him like an M16.

In Britain, we tend to think of Vietnam and the draft in relation to America but between November 1964 and December 1972, Australia drafted young men into national service and if balloted they were liable for ‘special overseas service’, which included combat duties in Vietnam.

50,000 Australians, including ground troops and air force and navy personnel, served in Vietnam. 520 died and almost 2,400 were wounded. At the time the war was the cause of social and political dissent in Australia, soldiers met a hostile reception on their return home.

More than twenty years after they came home, some of them were still living the nightmare of war. They always asked me to play one of two songs, ‘Khe Sanh’ by Cold Chisel or this one by Redgum.

Craic on!

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